One of the most popular ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching platforms at the moment is, without a doubt, VIPKid.
But who’s behind this innovative online teaching company? What are the VIPKid teacher requirements? How do you get to be a VIPKid hire? And how do current teachers feel about the company?
Type of side gig – Teaching English to Chinese kids
Hires – Teachers from North America with English fluency
Schedule – 5 am and 9 am EST (2 am to 6 am PST), Monday through Friday are peak hours, though there are other time slots available as well
Pay – $14-$18 per hour to start with the possibility of bonuses and incentives, and the chance to earn $22 per hour or even more
Payment - Payment via direct deposit twice per month
Keep reading for an exhaustive overview of this fast-growing online language school.
What is VIPKid?
VIPKid is an international company that offers a curated learning experience for Chinese students. It is considered one of the most reputable online teaching companies.
In a nutshell, teachers from North America teach students in China the ins and outs of the English language. The classes are age-appropriate and based on pre-made lessons. They are taught by native English speakers.
The purpose of VIPKid is to help young Chinese kids learn English as a second language (ESL). The students range in age from 4 – 13 years old. Native speaking English teachers are hired as independent contractors to teach via the Internet.
One thing that sets VIPKid apart from other virtual ESL programs is the 1 to 1 student-to-teacher ratio. In other words, each student receives individualized attention for an entire lesson.
They lesson plans are created by the folks at VIPKid. The teachers teach a curriculum that meets the US Common Core State Standards.
Is VIPKid legit?
VIPKid is 100% legit and we’ve got the story to prove it. Here’s (the short version of) how it came to be.
The Chinese school system is demanding, competitive, and crowded. Just ask Cindy Mi.
After several unfortunate events, Mi dropped out of school in China in the 11th grade. She says that students like her suffer because there aren’t enough qualified teachers living in China.
She’s not kidding.
She says that in Beijing there are more than one million elementary students and only around 27,000 qualified English teachers in the area. By qualified she means English teachers hailing from North America willing to teach English abroad.
Every year 18 million babies are born in China. Chinese parents are certainly willing to spend money on early education. But according to Mi, there should be better and more varied options, including online English. So in 2013 she stepped up and created VIPKid.
You might be wondering if one company can really make a difference.
You bet it can!
Today, VIPKid connects over 70,000 teachers from North America and Canada with roughly 600,000 students in over 60 countries for individualized English language sessions.
And the kicker? It’s all done online.
It’s natural to be skeptical about something so “innovative.” That being said, VIPKid isn’t a scam. The work, the salary, and the payoff are real. Great news for North Americans looking for online ESL jobs!
What’s more, VIPKid shows no sign of slowing down. Cindy Mi plans on expanding her online ESL education empire to include 100 countries. For example, she’s working on a new partnership with a popular education company in South Korea.
Learn more about her story and her mission here:
Online teaching opportunity
VIPKid hires teachers as independent contractors to teach English as a second language.
If you complete the hiring process and pass a background check, your first contract is for 6 months (with an option to renew).
You’re responsible for completing your own tax forms (you’ll receive a 1099). Keep in mind that there are zero benefits and no health insurance.
When you teach with VIPKid, a huge plus is that you’ll never have to worry about writing lesson plans or communicating with parents. The administrative staff takes care of that!
After you book classes through the teacher portal, you’re free to hone your teaching skills and enjoy interactions with the kids.
VIPKid contact information
VIPKid weekly schedule
The schedule may be one of the best things about working at VIPKid.
Get this: you only work when you want to work!
While there are definitely peak hours, there are no minimum hours or limit to the number of hours you can work. Classes are 25 minutes of teaching followed by 5 minutes of comments and observations.
It’s worth noting that the 30-minute total time commitment per class does not include prep time. While you’re never responsible for creating a lesson plan, you will want to spend some time reviewing materials before your class, especially if it’s the first time you give that particular lesson.
The lessons are scheduled according to the needs and availability of the students. Keeping the peak hours in mind, you pick the time slots that work best for you. You can vary your schedule each week.
Remember that there’s a big time difference between the US and China.
The peak hours in Beijing are Monday – Friday from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm, which is 5:00 am – 9 am EST or 2:00 am – 6 am PST. No doubt these working hours could take some time getting used to!
Know that once you choose a time, you’re committed to that lesson. VIPKid only allows for 6 cancellations during a 6-month contract. Commitment and follow through are basic requirements at VIPKid.
How much does VIPKid pay?
You can certainly make good money as a VIPKid teacher. VIPKid pays a competitivepay rate.
The base pay is how much you receive when you’re just getting started: $14.00 - $18.00/hour. Each lesson is 30 minutes, so that equals $7.00 - $9.00 per lesson.
With regular incentives, you could make up to $22.00 per hour.
Your payment will be deposited directly into your bank account twice a month.
Keep in mind that you will be required to pay taxes on the money you make with VIPKid.
Here’s what you do need to be considered for this online ESL job:
Eligibility to work in the US or Canada
Bachelor's degree in any field
Native English speaker with a North American accent
Experience working with kids 5 – 12 years old (experience teaching is a plus!)
Do not apply if you aren’t willing to have a background check or if you don’t have a college degree.
VIPKid is committed to hiring the most qualified teachers around and, for them, that means having a Bachelor’s degree (although a TEFL certification is optional). Their customers expect top-notch online ESL instruction and VIPKid delivers.
In addition, it’s good to have props at your disposal. What do we mean? Think about using flashcards, signs, puppets (for younger students), photos etc. to enhance your lessons.
Here’s a great overview of some of the props you can use when you’re a VIPKid teacher.
VIPKid application process
- First you absolutely must meet the basic requirements and possess the proper equipment (as outlined above).
If you do, log onto the website and fill out an application. Congrats! You are now a VIPKid applicant!
- Next up is the interview. You choose either a live interview or you can send in a recorded video.
The live version is a traditional interview format plus a brief demo class. Your recorded video will include the demo class.
- Time for a test! Within about 10 days of receiving the teaching materials you’ll be given your first VIPKid mock class assignment.
The test is actually 2 mock classes for which you’ll receive lesson plans. In the first class you’ll receive feedback from a trainer and be expected to incorporate the feedback into the second class.
- Time to sign up! If you pass the interview demo and then the demo classes, you’ll be presented with a 6-month contract.
A background check will be completed on all teachers before the contract is activated. The paperwork may take up to 5 business days to complete.
- Congrats! Once you’ve signed your contract and created a VIPKid online profile, you're ready to book classes.
The VIPKid hiring process is serious business because VIPKid attracts a lot of teachers. The competition is steep and they accept only 5% of their VIPKid applicants. That means they only want the English speakers that are the cream of the crop, so it’s important to be prepared.
You’re probably wondering about the VIPKid interview questions.
Basically, you’ll be asked to explain any previous teaching experience, especially with ESL students. You may be asked if you have teaching certificates (although these are not required). Also, be prepared to say why you want to be a part of VIPKid.
Here are 8 additional tips:
Remember the time difference! If you choose a live interview, know that it will be on China time.
Don’t hold back! Your performance in the mock class is used to determine your base salary.
Be prepared! Know your online ESLmaterial beforehand (we can’t stress this enough).
Listen to the feedback and be sure to incorporate it into your second demo.
Use props as long as they don’t distract from the lesson.
Ask your student questions and urge him or her to speak in full sentences.
Smile, smile, smile!
VIPKid demo lesson
The demo lesson is a super important part of the hiring process because it will determine your base pay. For that reason alone, we urge you to take this part seriously and don’t just “wing it.”
The demo lesson should be around 10 minutes, which is ample time to get through the slides and interact with your mock student. It’s best to plan on spending about 1 minute per slide.
Here are some tips for your first VIPKid demo lesson:
Watch videos of demo lessons, but don’t copy what they say or do! Instead, use these examples for inspiration and motivation. Pick and choose the aspects that resonate with you and then determine your own online teaching style. For example, if you like the colorful background you see in one video, go ahead and find a bright, eye-catching poster that has a similar look and vibe.
Find your voice and stick to it. Speak slowly, clearly, but with enough energy to hold your students’ attention. Never speak down to the kids, but be sure you aren’t using vocabulary that’s way above their heads either.
Be animated but not crazy! In other words, use hand gestures when appropriate (high fives, thumbs up), but refrain from bouncing all around and or else you’ll make your audience dizzy and confused.
Choose your background wisely. While a colorful poster with an educational message is an awesome backdrop, piles of laundry or the remnants of an art project are not.
Bring out the props! Make sure to have some props on hand so you don’t have to search for them during the demo. You don’t have to go overboard, but it’s fun to have a whistle to blow when a student answers a question correctly or a flag to wave when you’re about to switch topics.
Be calm and flexible and know that you cannot predict every minute of class. Be ready to go with the flow and think on your feet if and when something unexpected happens.
Have fun! Be the teacher you’d want to spend time with!
VIPKid students range in age from 4 – 13 years old. They are all ESL students; remember none of them are native English speakers!
Although the younger ones will probably be onscreen with a parent, your priority is to focus on the kid. Don’t stress about communicating with the grown up; leave that to the administrators.
Probably the best thing about the VIPKid students is that the majority of them are actually excited about learning!
These students are pretty motivated from the get-go. Of course, the creative content and dynamic between the teacher and student make a huge difference.
Something to keep in mind: Early education and English language lessons are extremely important to Chinese families.
It’s not uncommon for afterschool tutoring to account for 15% of a household’s income. That’s why there are so many ESL jobs available.
Each lesson is designed for an ESL student and then designed for the specific VIPKid online platform. All lessons are carefully reviewed to make sure they adhere to the English Language Common Core Standards.
For each class you’ll have only one student to teach for 25 minutes. Students receive “homework” prior to class and it’s up to you to reinforce what they’ve learned (for example, vocabulary words, sentence structure etc.). This “homework” is actually fun and the students look forward to it!
The lessons are conducted with slides (usually around 25 – 30) supplied by VIPKid. You access them through the VIPKid platform and you never have to create your own slides. Both students and teachers can interact with the slides to make for a truly dynamic lesson.
After the lesson, kids can open the site’s learning portal at any time. Believe it or not, many of the students look forward to doing extra practice sessions because they’re so entertaining and rewarding.
In general, the students will focus on you during the class rather than what is around you. However, they will be able to see how you’ve decorated your virtual classroom.
You don’t have to go overboard with decorations, but you do want to set the tone for an earnest yet inviting lesson.
How can you create the best learning environment (and score the highest apple rating) without spending a ton of money or spend too much time setting it up? It’s probably much easier than you realize.
The number one suggestion is to have a distraction-free zone.
What we mean by this is make sure there aren’t messy piles of papers on your table and don’t let your cat march in front of the computer screen. The background noise should be at a minimum.
We recommend hanging up a colorful poster (one with an educational theme is best) and a white board that you can write on and also use as a bulletin board. You can post photographs or diagrams that correspond to the lesson of the day.
For some proper inspiration, check out this video.
We can’t say enough about having the proper lighting. The last thing you want to do is conduct a class in the shadows!
While it would be great to count on natural light during your lesson, you may have a time slot that’s either early in the morning or later at night – when there’s no sunshine to speak of.
You don’t need much at all to illuminate your virtual classroom; this isn’t a Broadway production after all! We recommend small adjustable lights that clip right on to your screen. These are inexpensive and available online. You can charge them via USB.
It may take a few tries to position the lights just right, so be sure to do some practice runs before your first live lesson.
VIPKid reward systems
One of the ways VIPKid keeps students motivated is through a rewards system. Offering incentives has proven to boost the overall morale of a classroom and also spark initiation in individual students.
One thing to keep in mind is that the VIPKid student comes to class after having already completed a full-day of regular school. There’s a good chance the student is tired and not really in the mood to do more work.
The rewards can take the edge off and make these additional lessons seem a bit more like play.
There are different levels of rewards and it’s up to the teacher to decide which ones to use. The primary reward system is made up of stars that appear at the top of the classroom when they are earned by the students (it’s possible to earn up to 5 stars per class).
The stars can be earned during class or at the end of a lesson. Ultimately, they can be redeemed in the VIPKid online store for merchandise.
Most teachers include a secondary level of rewards, mainly because it makes for a lively classroom. Examples of secondary rewards are stickers, a quick game of tic-tac-toe, an opportunity to ask the teacher a question, a turn to pick a color to complete part of a picture, etc.
If you decide to implement a secondary reward system, it’s up to you to fund and create the system all on your own. However, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker; you can find inexpensive items like stickers, construction paper or white boards at your local dollar store (if you don’t already have these items stashed in a closet!).
VIPKid intro video
Think of the VIPKid intro video as your chance to make a really great first impression with the students and parents.
This video is not part of the hiring process, so you don’t need to sell yourself, per se. Instead, you’ll highlight your personality and show off your enthusiasm for being part of the VIPKid team. A successful video will help you to book classes.
Unlike the class demo, this video is short and sweet, up to one minute long. You’ll say your name, where you’re from and why you’re excited to be a VIPKid teacher. You might want to introduce one of your “helpers” (a stuffed animal or puppet) that you’ll be using during class.
Of course, you want to dress neatly (we recommend a plain t-shirt, ideally orange, as that's VIPKid's official color) and double check that you have decent lighting and clear audio.
If you’re passionate about teaching English to non-native speakers, VIPKid is probably a great match for you. But if you’re not convinced yet, here are some incentives and opportunities for bonuses.
$1.00 bonus when you start and end classes on time
$0.50 bonus per class if you successfully teach 30 – 44 classes in one month’s time
$1.00 bonus per class if you teach over 45 classes in one month
$2.00 bonus when a student books your class with just 24 hours notice
$5.00 if a “trial” student signs up with VIPKid after your class
VIPKid referral bonus
VIPKid will continue to be successful as long as it has top-notch teachers. That’s why they have a unique teacher referral bonus program.
The idea is that for every teacher you suggest who winds up getting hired by VIPKid, VIPKid pays you bonus money.
What’s more, every time your VIPKid hire reaches certain “milestones” within their VIPKid career, you receive additional cash.
This may sound too good to be true, but it’s the real deal! Here’s how to do it:
- When you’re logged into your teacher portal, click on the button that says “refer now.”
- Next you can copy your referral link or code or choose to send a note to a friend recommending VIPKid.
- Share your referral link far and wide! Post it on social media and pass it to friends and family. There is no limit to the number of times you can share your code.
VIPKid teacher reviews
One of the best ways to learn what goes on behind the scenes is to read the online VIPKid reviews. From these you get a real sense of the inner workings of the company.
You’ll see that most of the VIPKid employee reviews are full of praise and encouragement. The most common observation has to do with the students: how awesome they are!
Of course, there are always some complaints with ESL jobs, both justified and otherwise.
The biggest hang up seems to be regarding email communication between the administrative staff and the teachers. Conversations may be poorly translated, which can turn a simple situation into a confusing mess.
What is VIPKid FreshDesk?
Like the teacher portal, this is only really pertinent for teachers, but FreshDesk is a one-of-a-kind mobile app that employees use to manage a wide range of aspects related to the job, from their schedule to feedback from parents and incentives to course objectives.
Why this is a great gig for moms
This is the kind of job that you could do before the kids wake up in the morning, depending on where you live, or even during the day when they’re at school.
We especially like the flexible schedule, the fact that there is zero commute, and the salary with incentives.
In terms of requirements, teachers get off pretty easy: there is minimal prep work and also minimal overhead costs.
So if you’re an English speaker with a Bachelor’s degree and want to make an impact in the global education market from the comfort of your own home and still be around to prepare afterschool snacks, VIPKid is a great opportunity.